Governance Absent, but Tradition to the Rescue

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By Amar Yumnam
We know for sure that the government is there. One may ask as how we can be so sure about it. Well, we will immediately direct them to the vehicles with flags and escorts. These vehicles emit noise pollution everywhere with the decibels and continuity of noises picking up in areas more crowded and where there is very little space if any to give way to them. The speed of these vehicles would not slow down whatever the place, crowded or not, whereas everybody else is supposed to slow down and provide space to them at any cost. The traffic policemen too are supposed to be dancing on the road junctions and turnings as per the needs of these vehicles. One may ask as to why I put to use more than ninety words explaining these vehicles. My answer is that the government is the highest and most significant form of all social institutions, and these vehicles are supposed to be carrying the people of what we call government. So these vehicles are very important, one must invariably admit.

But Governance: Since we continuously experience the presence and movement of these vehicles, we may legitimately ask about the presence and effectiveness of governance. For the sake of simplicity, we may confine the question to only one aspect, i.e., of the presence of governance. The very public behaviour of these vehicles betrays the absence of governance. Well let us be magnanimous at this point. We have larger issues to be attended to.

The fundamental principle of governance is that all public issues of major or potentially major concerns should be immediately and effectively attended to so that the public can be happy that their government is responsively responsible. If, on the other hand, the government is not in a position or is unable to attend to the issues and resolve them within a reasonable period of time, the universal principle of governance demands that the adverse effects of it should be adequately appreciated and steps put in place so that the public do not pay unwarranted price for the unresolved problems. But the universal principles of governance seem to have no relevance and command no respect from the government in place in Manipur. Look at the demand for a new district and the accompanying effects arising out of it. On both the aspects the government has but been a cruel spectator, and ipso facto irresponsibly irresponsive.

Tradition at the Rescue: At this point, we may ask as to how and why the people celebrated the recent  Ningol Chakkouba with such a pomp and glory as ever. It has been as if everything was perfect in this land and there was nothing to be worried of. The government must have felt that its non-governance has not been felt by the people and as such there was not much to be worried about.

Nothing could be farther from truth. Over time the public have learned to survive despite the government. Years of misgovernance have ensured that the same habits and core concerns of the people remain unaltered. The fundamental concern of every household in the land over centuries has been to store the annual requirements of foodgrains so that the survival is ensured. This was an approach during the historical times and it is still the approach. This implies that years of planning and presence of modern government have failed to make any impact on the core approaches of the people. In other words, we have failed to alter the fundamental economic traditions of the people despite more than six decades of planning. The general confidence of the people over the centuries has been the security of life if we have foodgrains in stock. If we have that we have our social relationships and merriments intact. The recent celebration of the Ningol Chakkouba with such gaiety stands testimony to this traditional approach.

The undeterred celebration also testifies to the still strong family and relationship bondages. This should be taken as one fundamental strength of the people with the potential for further enhancement for social purposes.
Further, we may also wonder as to how the people could finance at all the expenses involved in the biggest festival of the land. Here we must be grateful that we have the big culture of Marups. The prevalence of this has enabled the households to have access to the basic necessities of establishing a home. This in turn has enabled every household to prepare for the annual festival. Further, there is also the legitimate pride of the people in upholding their tradition of love among the siblings and display it to the rest of the world.

But even in this the governance did not come to the occasion. To give one example, we have been told that there are modern buses already in Imphal for use in urban transport. The Ningol Chakkouba was the best occasion to put them into service immediately particularly because the fuel availability has been a problem. This would have served many positive purposes. Anyway, the government with an irresponsive approach to governance would not even come to reap the positive benefits of a timely action. Well long live the traditions of the people. 

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